Dobrinka Tabakova is a composer of ‘thoughtful and approachable’ music (Gramophone), with ‘glowing tonal harmonies and grand, sweeping gestures [which] convey a huge emotional depth’ (The Strad). Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading musicians and ensembles and her debut profile album ‘String Paths’, on ECM Records, was nominated for a Grammy in 2014.
Between 2014-2016 Dobrinka is working on two large-scale projects with the Stratford-upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan as composer-in-residence, supported by the Sorel Organization, New York. The culmination of the residency will be a a cantata for the Shakespeare 400 anniversary in 2016, bringing together rare J.M.W. Turner sketches of a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare’s timeless words.
Born in the historic town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria to a music-loving family of doctors and scientists, Dobrinka Tabakova moved to London in 1991, where she has lived since. Here she studied at Alleyn’s School and the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department, specialising in composition, piano and conducting. Early on, the composer John Adams praised her music as being “extremely original and rare”. She attended summer courses at the renowned Centre Acanthes in France, as well as the Prague and Milan Conservatoire summer compositions courses, alongside her composition degree studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (GSMD) in London. On graduating with distinction BMus and MMus at the GSMD, Dobrinka was appointed Composition Fellow there, where she continued her activities as President of the Contemporary Music Society. In 2007 she was awarded a doctorate in composition from King’s College London (KCL). Her composition teachers have included Simon Bainbridge, Diana Burrell, Robert Keeley and Andrew Schultz as well as masterclasses with John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Alexander Goehr, Marek Kopelent, Philippe Manoury, Alessandro Solbiati, Olav Anton Thommessen and Iannis Xenakis.
Among Dobrinka Tabakova’s prizes are the Jean-Frédéric Perrenoud prize and medal at the 4th Vienna International Music Competition; the prize for an anthem for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, performed at St Paul’s Cathedral, the GSMD Lutoslawski Composition Prize 1999 and the 2007 Adam Prize of King’s College London. She was a finalist for the 2010 Gaudeamus prize in Amsterdam and in 2011 was awarded first prize and the Sorel Medallion in Choral Composition, New York.
Her works have been recorded for the Hyperion and Avie record labels, among others, and in May 2013 ECM Records released the first full CD Album devoted to her music. The album String Paths reached No. 2 in the UK's Specialist Classical charts and attracted praise from the international press. String Paths was nominated in the Classical Compendium category of the 56th Grammy Awards and was one of four albums supporting the Grammy Nomination of ECM Records founder Manfred Eicher for Classical Producer of the Year. Music from the album was used in Jean-Luc Godard’s award winning 2014 film ‘Adieu au langage’.
The music of Dobrinka Tabakova has captured the imagination and support of worldwide audiences and leading musicians. She has been invited composer-in-residence at the Oxford Chamber Music Festival, Leicester International Chamber Music Festival and Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival, Kremerata Baltica Festival in Sigulda, Latvia and guest composer at the Lockenhaus Festival, Austria and Julian Rachlin & Friends festival, Dubrovnik. Dobrinka has also been invited as featured composer at the Spectrum Concerts, Berlin 20th anniversary concert and the 2010 Musicarama Festival in Hong Kong. Over the current season she was featured composer at the Arbanassi Summer Music Festival and had a major focus of her work, alongside Arvo Pärt, at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, UK.
Notable commissions include three suites and a concerto for violist Maxim Rysanov, Concerto for Cello & Strings for Kristina Blaumane and Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Of the Sun Born for Riga Youth Choir Kamer’s large project of World Sun Songs, as well as projects with Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Natalie Clein, Milos Karadaglic, Orchestra of the Swan, Choir of Merton College (Oxford), Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and Voices of Ascension (New York). 2014 saw the premiere of a Royal Philharmonic Society commission, a joint film and music collaboration with Scottish director Ruth Paxton. The film Pulse was part of the UK’s first New Music Biennial and was screened through the UK and across Europe.
Dobrinka Tabakova has dedicated a significant time to promoting music by living composers co-ordinating the British Music Information Centre’s The Cutting Edge Series and acting as President of the Contemporary Music Society at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.